Thursday, December 18, 2014

Phantoms take down B-Sens, make history in the process

Courtesy of the Morning Call

by Rob Riches
Phanatic Hockey Writer
Twitter: @Riches61

ALLENTOWN, PA. -- The Lehigh Valley Phantoms matched an American Hockey League record on Wednesday night, scoring three goals in the span of 21 seconds en route to a 5-3 win over the Binghamton Senators.

Those three goals were scored in the game’s opening 36 seconds, to boot, which also gave the hosts a new AHL record from the start of a contest by a single club. Petr Straka opened the scoring 15 seconds into the game for his seventh of the season, which was answered 12 seconds later by Jason Akeson’s third of the season. Nine seconds after that, Andrew Gordon made it a 3-0 game.

Watch all three unfold in the following video:

Senators head coach Luke Richardson had seen enough from goalie Andrew Hammond, and pulled him following Gordon’s tally. Hammond’s night ended with three goals allowed on as many shots, with Scott Greenham playing the mop-up role for the Sens.

“It didn’t feel like the game had even started yet,” Gordon said. “My first shift of the game was 10 seconds long, and we already had two goals … the next few minutes, it seemed like we were playing in shock a little bit.”

Nick Cousins also added two goals on the power play, for his fifth and sixth goals of the season, respectively. His marker just over two minutes into the second period gave the Phantoms a cozy 4-0 lead, and added the team’s fifth goal with 4:23 to play in regulation.

Following their three-goal outburst, the Phantoms (12-11-4) played the rest of the first period on their heels, relying mainly on a dump-and-chase approach. They were able to muster just three shots over the remaining 19 minutes, compared to a hearty 15 for the B-Sens.

“I thought we got real loose in the second period, especially,” Phantoms head coach Terry Murray said. “They had the green light. After it’s 3-0, what have you got to lose? They’re just going to get pucks in and go after it.”

“I think after those three goals, we sort of got away from our game plan,” Cousins added. “They took it to us after that, they took it to us in the second. We had to rely on [Zepp], he played another solid game back there.”

All three Senators goals came on the power play in the game’s back half of regulation, courtesy of Alex Grant (second period, 14:06), Chris Wideman (third period, 2:33) and Derek Grant (third, 19:39). They capitalized on three of seven man-advantages, while the Phantoms went 2-for-6 on the power play -- which stands now at 13th in the AHL by operating at a 17.6 percent clip. Alex Grant's score came with a bit of controversy, because extensive replays demonstrated the puck went through the netting from the outside.

Zepp was astounding between the pipes once again for the Phantoms, making 41 saves on 43 shots. Greenham managed to turn away 25 of the 27 shots he faced.

Binghamton (12-11-3) entered the game one point ahead of the Phantoms in the East Division standings, and the Phantoms’ win supplanted them, as they stand now at 28 points -- three points behind second-place Hershey, and seven points behind first-place Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

The Phantoms will play twice more -- at home against Hershey on Friday, and at Hartford on Saturday -- before enjoying the AHL’s winter holiday hiatus.

NOTES: The Phantoms’ five goals matches their single-season high, set thrice this season (Oct. 11, Oct. 25 and Dec. 7). … The game’s regulation finish was the first at PPL Center since Nov. 29. … Cousins’ two-goal effort was the first multi-goal night of his career. … The Phantoms’ previous record for fastest three goals came in a 31-second span against the Baltimore Bandits on Dec. 9, 1996 -- the franchise’s first year of existence when it operated in Philadelphia … The AHL record for fastest three goals is 20 seconds, set in a Dec. 14, 1997 tilt between the Springfield Falcons and Worcester IceCats, though both teams split the three goals ... Blair Jones returned to the Phantoms' lineup after being a late scratch on Sunday in Atlantic City due to illness.

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